If you're hitting the road, stop to check the ethanol levels in your gas

Plenty of people are traveling this weekend, as with most Memorial Day celebrations. One thing you’ll notice is that gas prices are higher this week. This happens pretty much every year and the trend is currently being amplified by growing global demand versus supply levels. One other thing you might not be looking out for is the ethanol levels in the gas you’re buying and how that might affect the long-term health of your vehicle. As ethanol blending levels rise, older engines not designed to handle such a mix can see reduced performance and damage over the life of the vehicle.


Until there’s a change in policy coming from the EPA and the White House, consumers will need to be careful when filling up. But if a new piece of legislation becomes law, you should at least have an easier time telling how much corn juice is going into your fuel lines. (Siouxland)

AAA predicts 42 million Americans will travel this memorial day weekend. Also, millions of boaters are expected on the water. Now, lawmakers want to send a warning about a certain type of fuel known as ethanol 15.

“Any high-performance motor, if you put that new fuel into those engines, it will destroy those engines,” says Republican Congressman Austin Scott from Georgia.

E-15 contains high levels of ethanol than E-10, which most manufacturers built motors to run on.

Lawmakers are concerned the higher levels of ethanol can damage older cars, boats and other equipment.

With all that in mind, Congressman Austin Scott (R-GA) has introduced new legislation dealing with the EPA, seeking to label gasoline products with warnings and information about increased ethanol levels. The details can be found at his website.

Congressman Scott introduced the “Consumer Protection and Fuel Transparency Act.” The bi-partisan legislation requires the EPA to provide warning labels and establish PSA’s to raise awareness about the potential risks from E-15.

“Certainly those people who sell the fuel have the right to sell it, but people who are purchasing the fuel needed to have an adequate warning.

Whether you’re hitting the road or the water this summer season, officials suggest checking the owners manual or research to decide what fuel type works best for your car or boat.


This won’t eliminate higher ethanol levels in gasoline but it will make the differences more obvious to consumers. How much you should be worried about that depends entirely on what you’re doing the type of vehicle you drive. In general terms, the older your car is, the less likely it was built and tested to standards which would prevent issues arising from burning E-15. The situation is much worse for small engines.

If you happen to enjoy boating you hopefully already know that the smaller marine engines are ruined by ethanol. You should either shop around for ethanol free gas or, failing that, purchase an ethanol treatment additive to add to your fuel. You can’t actually “remove” ethanol from gasoline once it’s blended without introducing a lot of water, but good additives can blunt some of the effects ethanol has on your engine. These include poor mileage, corrosion, solvency and water absorption. That last one is a big issue because ethanol soaks up water right out of the air in humid environments and it can build up in your gas tank.

Other small motors are also at risk. I took my lawnmower to a local repair shop several years ago when it began running horribly. The technician had to clean it out entirely and told me to start putting ethanol free gas in it or be prepared for more trouble. We have to drive a bit further and pay a little more per gallon, but I’ve been doing it ever since and not seen a recurrence of the problem.


In any event, this is just something to watch out for if you’re traveling over the holiday weekend. For that matter, you should keep an eye on this all year around.

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Tom Jackson 6:01 PM on October 04, 2023